Lucid Dreaming : Conscious Awareness of Your Dreams

One essential phase of sleep called the rapid-eye-movement (REM) phase is where
most dreams occur. Humans and lab animals that have been deprived of REM sleep
exhibit bizarre and often psychotic behavior. Researchers have found that your REM
dream state is predominantly the alpha and theta brainwave states (4 to 7 cycles per
second and 7 to 14 cycles per second respectively).
Dreams are ordinarily spontaneous and representative of subconscious meander-
ings. They can also be a psychological release of tension. As far back as Biblical
times, dreams have symbolically carried meaning ("... and Pharaoh told them his
dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh." Gen. 41:8).
Since dreams are often veiled in symbolism, it's important to record your dreams and
periodically review them to acquaint yourself with any interpretive parallels
happening in your life. After interpreting your own subconscious symbolism,
dreams can open themselves up to a personal enjoyment instead of a perplexing
experience.
The term lucid dreaming describes the experience of consciously recognizing
during a dream that you are dreaming. By involving your conscious awareness in a
subconscious activity, you can learn to control the content of your dream and its
course of action. The more mindful and fully conscious you are in your normal
waking state, the easier it will be for you to master the lucid dreaming state. Review
“Exercise -- Mindfulness: Improving Your Conscious Awareness” to sharpen your
lucid dreaming state.
Dreams to a lucid dreamer are more vivid than simple visualizations. Objects and
people appear to be and feel solid, and the dreamer is often able to converse
intelligently with his own dream characters. Lucid dreamers can create or eliminate
characters and items within the dream by simply wanting to do so. In dreams, you
can even levitate or fly. So if you're ever in doubt of your dream state, try flying as a
test.
A Malaysian tribe called the Senoi revolves much of its culture around dreams. At
an early age, parents question their children closely about their dreams. The children
are taught early how to control their dreams and to bring about beneficial outcomes.
By consciously manipulating their subconscious dreams, the Senoi manifest positive
results in the waking world and resolve their daily problems more readily.
One technique to achieving a lucid dream state is to ask yourself the question, "Is this a dream?" or "Am I dreaming?" 10 to 20 times just before falling asleep. The
conscious repetitiveness of the question will eventually be submerged into the
subconscious dream state. Reflecting cognitively upon such a question in the dream
state will result in some form of conscious intervention and awareness, and hence a
lucid dream state will be achieved.
As a variation of the former method, simply count and affirm just before retiring,
"I am dreaming, One" -- "I am dreaming, Two" and so on. Attending to the counting
process keeps your conscious awareness vigilant to what you intend to do. For those
people who tend to fall asleep rapidly, this method can have you counting straight
into dreamland.
Another method is to reiterate over and over to yourself just before going to sleep,
"I am going to sleep now. I know that I will be dreaming. I will recognize that I am
dreaming when I am dreaming. Tonight, I will be consciously aware of my dream. I
will remember what I dream in full conscious detail."
You can also use a stimulus response link. For instance just before going to
sleep, look at your hand while reiterating to yourself over and over, "When I see my
hand in my dream, I will know I am dreaming." One researcher used with great
success a mild electric shock to signal subject dreamers they were dreaming.
Any of these techniques may initiate a flood of colors, images, sounds and
thoughts. If you begin thinking in abstract ways, it usually indicates the right brain is
taking over and the left brain is becoming idle. Just continue observing and the
sounds and images will eventually evolve into a 3-dimensional dream that you can
consciously explore, change and learn from.
For recurring nightmares or fearful dreams, intensely visualize yourself actively in
a more preferred scenario just before falling asleep. Imagine yourself initiating
actions in the manner that is most beneficial to you so that the stage is set for the
subconscious to rerun the same play in your favor. Combine your visualization with
the suggestion that you are in control of your dream and that there is nothing to fear.
Eventually your imagery process will merge into a dream process and positive results
will be achieved.
Using the above techniques will produce an ability to achieve lucid dreaming in 4
to 5 weeks or less. After achieving a lucid dream state, act only as a casual observer
at first or the condition might quickly dissipate into wakefulness. Slowly integrate
into your dreams volitional control and alterations, and soon full dream mastery will
be achieved. If you avoid whimsical notions, you can design purposeful meaning to
your dreams and achieve in the dream state that which you want in the real world. If
you want positive episodes to happen in the real world, you can now create dreams
about them first.
Since many remembered dreams are recollections of astral travel (esp. flying
dreams), (review "Exercises -- Astral Projection Techniques" and "Astral Projection
Adventures"), learning lucid dreaming can also be important in learning how to
consciously remember and participate in astral journeys.
There is a right to left brain shift during the night after 45 minutes; then a left to
right shift after another 45 minutes. Consequently, every 90 minutes, there is a storm
of neuronal activity in the right brain as it goes into its REM dream cycle for several
minutes. Not surprisingly, the same brain cycle follows throughout the day as well.
Ever notice how sometimes you're more prone to daydreaming while reading than
at other times? Daydreaming often occurs spontaneously throughout the day and is
also subconsciously oriented. This “in the back of the mind” imaging sometimes
guides your thought patterns toward a preoccupation into negative thinking. Since
daydreams are more easily interrupted, practice observing them when they occur.
Then interject your conscious influence over the flow and outcome of the daydreams
by directing them into a more positive result.
If daydreams are too elusive to manage, begin with conjured up visualizations that
you can create for yourself. Devise an imagined script and story and produce your
own inner plays. You can also take advantage of the 45-minute brain shift cycle by
practicing your visualization exercises during right brain period. Research has shown
that lucid dreamers are more likely than non-lucid dreamers to have dreams that are
positive, successful or filled with good fortune. It makes sense, doesn't it? If you
can control the flow and outcome of your dream, why would you want a negative
dream?